famous people who fear public speaking

7 Famous People who fear Public Speaking

Most of us get nervous when it’s time to give a public speech or presentation. In 2014, a Chapman University Survey on American Fears, top listed Public Speaking as one of the most common fears in the country.

Many other studies around the world achieved similar results: for most people, speaking in front of a crowd is terrifying. If you are one of these people, you’re not alone.

Famous people afraid of Public Speaking

Even if it’s not your case, you probably know someone that runs from the stage as much as they can, and celebrities are not immune. We found some interesting info about men and women from different fields and generations that, such as you, deal with a fear of public speaking.

1. Rowan Atkinson

Best known for his character Mr. Bean, Rowan Atkinson gets very nervous and uncomfortable when he has to speak in public. This is easily spotted when the actor is present in talk shows, for example.

Like many others, Atkinson found ways of protecting himself. Many of his characters show problems with speaking, and Mr. Bean, as you may remember, is an almost silent comedy show.

Nonetheless, the actor stepped forward when he felt he needed to defend what he believes is correct. In 2012, and despite the evident discomfort, Rowan Atkinson made a heartfelt statement about freedom of speech.

2. Tiger Woods

The famous golf player is another celebrity that gets very nervous when he needs to speak publicly. Cleverly, he deals with his fears by practicing as much as he can before the event.

Tiger Woods usually falls asleep speaking to his dog the night before his ordeal, assuring this way he had an appreciative audience.

3. Sir Richard Branson

Richard Branson is a famous adventurer and billionaire and one of the world’s highest-paid speakers. However, he gets nervous before he goes onto a stage.

He admits that it is hard work to engage an audience. For many people, the Q&A is a real headache in public speaking, but not for Sir Richard. The introduction of new ideas and Q&A sessions actually seems to ease his way of working with an audience.

Many well-known actors started taking acting classes as an attempt to overcome their speaking problems. Them being extreme shyness or stuttering (such as Bruce Willis and Julia Roberts as kids), those issues prevented them from speaking in public.

4. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

As a member of the British Royal family, Prince Harry has to speak in public. It is a consequence of his duties. Used to it from an early age, the youngest son of Princess Diana recently admitted that he gets “super nervous, no matter the size of the crowd.”

Despite the relaxed appearance, Harry shows every time he is on stage, inside, he feels quite differently. The laughing and jokes are, in fact, his way of dealing with the anxiety. He found in humor the shield he needed to face the crowd

5. Mahatma Gandhi

One of the most adored leaders in the modern world was terrified of public speaking.

During his university time, as he finished law school, Gandhi had recurrent panic attacks; he had symptoms such as blurred vision and trembling. In one of these situations, he had to ask someone else to read his speech. The severity of the symptoms just didn’t allow him to do it.

Later, in his first case as a lawyer, the panic strikes in, and he abandoned the courtroom because he couldn’t think of any question to ask.

These terrible and, certainly, humiliating situations made the fear and anxiety grow every time they happened. Gandhi was, however, able to overcome his difficulties due to finding a cause that inflamed a passion that was bigger than any fear.

“Personally, I am very nervous when I begin to speak. Every time I make a speech, I feel I am submitting to judgment, not only about my ability but my character and honor.”


6. Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was the third American president and, based on some historical documents, was diagnosed with Social Phobia by Duke University.

In the eight years he was president, Jefferson only gave two speeches, both in such a low tone than the audience could barely hear him. He compensated his lack of speaking skills with his exceptional writing abilities, which helped him to craft the most powerful and concise speeches possible.

7. Adele

The singer Adele is one of the performers that have severe physical symptoms before stepping on the stage. She experiences tremendous anxiety for being in front of a crowd. She admitted it in an interview by saying, “I’m scared of audiences.”

Her fear is so intense that she frequently vomits before the concerts.

Learn from the great

The main reason we fear public speaking is because we feel judged. We are afraid of being humiliated and making a fool of ourselves. It can happen in all areas, and, as we’ve seen, it doesn’t have to prevent you from reaching your goals.

Different people find different ways to deal with it, but all had to start at the same point: facing their fears instead of avoiding it.

If you are afraid of doing it, choose a topic that you’re excited about and focus on delivering a short but forceful message. Focus on the message and the reason why you think it’s important and be positive about you and your abilities. Use all you know the best way possible. Remember that the more you do it, the easier it gets to do it again.

Cátia is a psychologist who is passionate about helping children develop and train social skills.


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